The streaming system of Singapore’s secondary education has brought about a lot of concerns from parents. This streaming system, in a way, has created a stereotype regarding the students who are in each respective stream. More often than not, the Normal (Technical) stream tends to have a reputation of having rebellious students and a place where students will learn to join gangs and engage in socially unacceptable behaviour. As such, if parents discover that their child is at risk of entering the Normal (Technical) stream, they panic and start signing up their child for various tuition programmes, in hopes of raising their grades so their child can avoid entering the Normal (Technical) stream.
However, if you look at it from a different perspective, being in the Normal (Technical) stream is not a disadvantage. It can, instead, be an advantage to your child and help them to be more successful in life. Being in the Normal (Technical) stream where the pacing of lessons is not as competitive, the student has more time to explore their potentials and eventually discover their talents.
Opportunity to expand their network
After their N’ Level exams, students in the N(T) stream will enter ITE for their Nitec certificate. The way ITE is structured is such that they place more emphasis on workplace and hands-on training over academic excellence. They will then obtain greater exposure to their chosen field of study and gain more experience as compared to their peers in the other streams. This also gives them the opportunity to meet other professionals in the industry they are in and expand their network. Having the right network and knowing the right people can help them to land their dream job in the future. It can also be their edge over students from different streams. As they say in the workforce nowadays, “It is not what you know but whom you know”. Their working experience from ITE and the connections they made can then be their ticket to a successful future.
Opportunity to explore self-identity
Students in the Express and Normal (Academic) stream often face more pressure than their peers in the Normal (Technical) stream as the environment is much more competitive and focused on academic excellence. As such, in the midst of our competitive pursuits for academic excellence, we do not question our goals and motivations and consider what we really want in life. This causes a big problem when we enter our second phase of life where we have to decide on which career pathway we want to embark on.
On the other hand, students in the Normal (Technical) stream have a much more gentler learning curve. The syllabus is less competitive and academic focused. More emphasis is placed on providing trainings, workshops and courses that helps to develop their skills and to discover their interests. Through this, they get more freedom to explore their talents and discover their self-identity. They get to experience different paths through workshops and camps and eventually learn what they are good at. They get to discover their strengths and weaknesses and find their niche. They get to better understand themselves by helping them to realize their goals in life and giving them a strong sense of direction towards what they are working for.
Develops courage and character
Even though the pacing in the Normal (Technical) stream is much gentler than, students still face hardships in their learning especially those who have learning difficulties such as dyslexia. They need to work much harder than other students in order to keep up with the pace of learning. Through this journey of hard work, they are then more likely to develop the strength to overcome adversities and learn to never give up as they never had things easy and they needed to work harder in order to be on par with their peers from the other streams. These positive traits will take them far in the future.
It’s not too late for degrees and universities
The most common concern from parents with children who goes to the Normal (Technical) stream is that their children might not be able to go to a university and get a degree. Fear not because nowadays, ITEs are now preparing their students to enter university. The route to a university degree will be much longer as they will have to take the Normal (Technical) -> ITE -> Polytechnic -> University route but in the grand scheme of things, it is just a few more years. If taking this route allows your child to be better prepared for the next 40 years of working life, I would say it is worth it.
Students who are in N(T) may often feel like they’re being left out of their peers who got to N(A). Even some parents may even get disappointed when their child take the N(T) route. This usually causes the students to slack of even more and lose their motivation to study. However, we shouldn’t see things that way. Going to N(T) isn’t the end of everything. If you see N(T) as a disadvantage, then it might just turn out bad. But, if you see things in a different perspective, N(T) might be just what your child needs.
Take N(T) as new opportunity for your children to learn what’s best for them rather than a disadvantage. Things might just be a little bit slower in N(T) compared to other streams but remember that diamonds aren’t made overnight. N(T) helps you children explore their potentials. It gives them a taste of real-life hustle which helps in building their character. It teaches them to be courageous and able to withstand and overcome difficulties. These are important values that would take them far in the future.